KARACHI: With the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council’s (PMDC) new admission policy based on the gender-parity quota, a great discrepancy emerged at the onset of the admissions to public-sector medical colleges and universities on Sunday when around 70 per cent female students sat the entrance test, compared to 30 per cent of their male counterparts across the province.
The entrance test for admissions to six medical colleges and universities, conducted by the National Testing Service, had a total of 11,570 female students eligible to sit, compared to 5,115 boys. The institutions included Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, the Jinnah Sindh Medical University, Karachi, the Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro, the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University, Larkana, the Peoples University of Medical and Health Sciences, Nawabshah, and the Ghulam Muhammad Mahar Medical College, Sukkur.
“The medical universities and colleges will definitely have to lower the merit for male students in order to implement the directives of the PMDC on the 50:50 male-female ratio,” said Prof Dr SM Tariq Rafi, the Jinnah Sindh Medical University’s (JSMU) vice-chancellor, when approached by The Express Tribune. “This will lead to discrimination.”
The vice-chancellor’s dilemma was apparent as the JSMU, along with the Dow University of Health Sciences, had received the most number of female students’ applications compared to the rest of the province. Merely 17 per cent male students have cumulatively applied at the two universities as compared to 83 per cent females.
Meanwhile, the female students who sat the entrance test had declared the PMDC’s directives, issued on September 18 to the health secretaries of the four provinces and the federal government, gender discriminatory.
“I have been bearing great psychological stress since the announcement of the new admission policy, which reeks of gender discrimination,” said Sarah Ghani, who had secured 85% marks in her Intermediate and studied at the PECHS Government College for Women. “The new policy will mean that those male students, who secured way lower marks in their Intermediate, will be offered admissions to fill up their quota while hundreds like me will be deprived.”
PMDC’s acting registrar Dr Shaista Faisal argued, however, that the decision was made keeping in view the growing gender disparity in the healthcare profession because around three quarters of the female students of medicine abandon work right after graduating or after marriage.
But Prof Ghulam Asghar Channa, vice-chancellor at the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University in Larkana, believed that the trend simply cannot be reversed by increasing the quota for male students in medical colleges. “The compromise on merit will further deteriorate the quality of medical education and will also lead to gender bias,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2014.